Can you travel to Scotland? Covid-19 Update [September 2021]

can you travel to scotland update

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Updated when anything changes. Last updated: 8 September 2021.

A question I am asked almost every day is when can you travel to Scotland?

I know that the latest information from official sources can be hard to digest and it often raises more questions- so I have done the hard work for you and trawled the internet to present you with the most up-to-date information in an easily digestible way.

Please note information can change daily, and the most up-to-date information will always be on the Scottish Government and NHS websites. I have provided links to the official sources below. Be sure to check your own government travel advisories for updated information too.

This article is intended for overseas visitors planning a trip to Scotland but there is information that locals will find useful. There is also helpful information here for those who need to get to Scotland for essential purposes [such as visiting a sick relative, moving home or for other personal reasons].

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If you spot any errors in this post, please leave a comment at the bottom of this article and I’ll amend it. If you have any questions, please ask these in the comments too and I can update this post.

Latest Information on travelling to Scotland

Update: 8 September 2021

  • 68.6% of the population in Scotland have been fully vaccinated
  • Positive cases in Scotland are at an all time high. On 7 September, 5692 new cases were reported
  • The surge in cases are probably due to schools reopening on the 18/19th of August, as anyone aged 15 or younger are not eligible for the vaccine
  • The death count is significantly lower than they were during November 2020 – March 2021
  • Nicola Sturgeon (First Minister of Scotland) said today that ”the Covid surge in Scotland may be slowing down”
  • No new restrictions have been put in place and mostly everything in Scotland is open
  • Face masks are still required when indoors in public spaces
  • Social distancing is no longer required (but it is recommended to be careful)
  • The Scottish Government has said that it’s possible Scotland may move back into the tiered system if cases get worse, but there has been no hint of this so far

Those visiting Scotland from Green and Amber list countries do not need to self-isolate. You need to provide a negative Covid test within 3 days before you fly, and you also need to fill out a Locator Passenger Form and take a Covid test on day 2 when you arrive in Scotland.

More info can be found here. 

You need to book your test before you leave your country as you will need proof of this when you arrive. Your test will be delivered to your accommodation. 

If you fly directly from an Amber/Green list country and arrive in a Scottish airport you can book and pay for your test with CTM here.

If you arrive in England, you have more choices where you can book your test. And yes, they will deliver your test to your accommodation in Scotland. I recommend booking your test here. Testing For All is a registered charity and seems to be the most affordable option for passengers arriving in England. You can purchase this test if you arrive in England, but plan on travelling to Scotland.

You MUST book and pay for your Passenger Locator Form and Day 2 test 48 hours BEFORE you fly to the UK.

Your test will arrive at your chosen accommodation by Royal Mail post. There are instructions on how to take your test and where to send it in your test kit.

I have no affiliation with this company- I’ve seen this recommended in my Scotland Travel Tips Facebook group as a good option.

Update: 9 August 2021

On August 9, Scotland moved beyond Level 0 (the lowest Covid-19 restriction level). Due to the success of the vaccine and falling case levels, Scotland has now (mostly) returned to normality- which is very exciting!

Social distancing will now end, and nightclubs have reopened. Bars and restaurants can also return to regular opening hours (previously they had to close early and have restrictions around serving alcohol).

Wearing a face mask indoors in public places is still required, and will most likely be required until the end of 2021.

If you are double vaccinated and come into contact with someone who has tested positive with Covid-19, you need to take a PCR test. If your test comes back negative, you will no longer need to self-isolate for 10 days. If your test comes back positive, you will need to self-isolate for the 10 days.

The pandemic is not over in Scotland, and care should still be taken, but it’s very exciting that we have moved beyond the tiered-system! There is the possibility we could move back into the system, so it’s important that everyone continues to wash their hands and use hand sanitiser when possible.

If arriving from a Green or Amber list country, you will need to take a PCR test on day two after you arrive in the UK.


Update: 2 August 2021

Some great news! Fully vaccinated travellers from the USA and EU (minus France) can now travel to Scotland without having to quarantine for 10 days. 

All countries on the Amber list no longer need to quarantine, but all travellers will still need to produce a negative covid test before boarding their flight, and produce a negative PCR test result on day two after arrival. You no longer need to produce a second test on day eight. 

People travelling from Amber list countries who are not fully vaccinated will still need to quarantine for 10 days.

These changes came into effect on August 2.

If you produce a positive Covid19 result, you will need to self-isolate for 10 days. This is something all travellers will need to factor into their time and costs, as you will need to pay for this yourself.

It’s unclear whether you will need to self-isolate at a government facility or if you can self-isolate at a location of your choice- I’ll update this post when information becomes available.

Case numbers continue to drop in Scotland after a spike in cases around the beginning of July. 

As of August 2, 58.3% of the population in Scotland is fully vaccinated.

SCOTLAND RESOURCES

On a budget? Grab my Scotland Bucket List Planner

Organising a big trip? Grab my Ultimate Scotland Planner

Want to tick off all the must-sees? Grab my Must-See Scotland Essential Travel Planners

Have a question about travelling around Scotland? Join my Facebook groups Scotland Travel Tips and Scotland Travel Tips for Locals

Love podcasts? Listen to my Scotland podcast Life in Scotland

The current situation in Scotland: What’s open and what’s closed

If you’re curious about what the current situation is in Scotland, I’ve summarized the main points. There is a mixture of information for locals and those planning a trip. This section will be updated regularly as things change.

Arriving in the UK

  • Everyone who arrives in Scotland must provide proof of a negative Covid test taken within 36 hours before arriving in Scotland.
  • Passengers arriving in Scotland from a Red zone have to pay £1,750 to quarantine in a room at one of six designated hotels. It’s £650 for an additional adult or a child over 12, and £325 for a child aged 5 to 12.
  • Passengers arriving in Scotland from an Amber zone must take a Covid-19 test on day two after arriving in the UK.

Current rules while in Scotland

  • Wear a face covering while indoors

The 5-tier system

Scotland has 5 Protection Levels [or tiers] to help control the virus. Each area in Scotland is allocated a different tier depending on the prevalence of the virus across Scotland. You can see what tier each area in Scotland is in here.

Here’s a brief overview of each tier:

Level 4 – Lockdown

Level 4 is essentially a lockdown order to stay at home. For stay at home guidance, click here.

  • Accommodation is closed for tourism and only open for essential travel
  • Restaurants are takeaway only
  • No in-home socialising
  • No use of public transport except for essential travel
  • Visitor attractions closed
  • Parks and gardens open for exercise

Level 3 – Very High

  • Travel throughout Scotland is allowed as long as the region you are visiting is Level 3 or lower
  • Accommodation open
  • Pubs and restaurants allowed to open until 8pm indoors [no alcohol] and 10pm outdoors [alcohol permitted]
  • 4 people from up to 2 households can meet indoors at a restaurant/cafe
  • 6 people max can meet outdoors from 3 households
  • Visitor attractions including museums, galleries and libraries open with safety measures in place
  • Parks and gardens open for exercise
  • Gyms can open
  • Non-essential shopping can open
  • Funerals can take place with up to 50 people [no alcohol]

Level 2 – High

  • Accommodation open
  • Pubs and restaurants open but must close at 10pm outdoors and 10.30pm indoors [alcohol permitted]
  • 4 people from up to 2 households can meet indoors at home
  • Visitor attractions including museums, galleries and libraries open with safety measures in place
  • Parks and gardens open for exercise
  • Non-essential shopping open
  • Cinemas, amusement arcades and bingo halls can open
  • Outdoor contact sport and indoor exercise classes can restart

Level 1 – Medium

  • Accommodation open
  • Pubs and restaurants open but must close at 11pm
  • 6 people from up to 3 households can meet indoors at a restaurant/cafe and at home
  • 8 people max can meet outdoors from 3 households
  • Visitor attractions/shopping open with safety measures in place
  • Parks and gardens open for exercise
  • Indoor non-contact sport can take place

Level 0 – Nearly Normal [All of Scotland is currently below this level]

  • Restrictions on group numbers inside and outside (max 15 people to meet outside at someone’s home max 8 people indoors]
  • Weddings and funerals can have up to 200 people attend
  • Office staff are to still work from home if possible
  • Nightclubs to remain closed
  • You must still wear a face mask when indoor

Tips

  • When making NEW bookings for accommodation and tours, be sure to check their cancellation policy. Booking.com has a flexible 24-hour cancellation policy, but be sure to double-check each property before making a booking.
  • If you have existing bookings, check your cancellation policies for each activity, write down the deadlines and stick them on your fridge so you don’t forget to cancel or extend and lose your money.
  • Be sure to book ahead of your visit. A lot of businesses will not accept walk-ins. If you have a pay a deposit, make sure you know their refund policy.
  • To see a graph on the current number of Covid-19 in Scotland, just Google ”Covid 19 in Scotland” and a graph will come up with the daily

Websites for up-to-date information

Scottish Government website: The first place to check is the Coronavirus in Scotland page.

NHS [National Health Service]: For up to date information on what to do if you are in Scotland and have symptoms or need to book a test, visit the NHS website.

News: For the latest news in Scotland, I recommend following the BBC.

Visit Scotland: Visit Scotland also has a page with helpful information and updates on the Covid-19 situation in Scotland.

How you can experience Scotland from home

  • Read my blog! There are tons of free articles on this website about Scotland that will help you with planning your dream trip, or to simply keep Scotland in you mind. This really helps me as a small business struggling to get through Covid!
  • Read these books about Scotland. One of the best forms of escapism is through a book! I made a list of my favourite books about Scotland- these should keep you going for a while.
  • Re-watch Outlander. I know I am!
  • Test your knowledge with my Scotland Quiz! You can even use it to host your own Zoom quiz night with your pals.
  • Start planning your trip early so when travel opens up, you’re ready to book! My Scotland travel planners will help you plan your perfect trip.
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ABOUT YVETTE

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Hello, I’m Yvette and I’m from New Zealand. In 2016 I left home to travel the world; I met my husband after hiking the length of Scotland, and now we live in a wee Scottish village with our pup, Angus. I’m a full-time blogger and travel Scotland for a living! Read more about me here.

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